Sorghum Syrup

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sorghum syrup is a natural sweetener made from the juice of sorghum cane, a tropical grass brought to the United States from Africa and Asia in the mid-1800s. Sorghum cane resembles corn without the ears. The plant can grow to a height of 12 to 14 feet; when the cane is almost mature, it produces a seed head on top. These heads are cut off and usually saved for seed for the following season, while the leaves are stripped with a machete or small handsaw. The stalks are cut off and the juice squeezed from them by means of revolving rollers. Traditionally, a horse or mule turned the cane mill, but today tractors pull modern machinery that cuts the cane off at the ground, while large rollers squeeze the juice right in the field. The juice is then pumped into a tank that is pulled behind the machine. The juice is next transported to a mill, where it is preheated overnight before being boiled down the next day. While the juice boils, the chlorophyll (impurities) is skimmed off to achieve a thick, amber syrup in a ratio of 10 to 1—ten gallons of sorghum juice are needed to produce one gallon of sorghum syrup.